UK Independent Singles and Albums Charts

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The UK Independent Singles Chart and UK Independent Albums Chart are charts of the best-selling independent singles and albums, respectively, in the United Kingdom. Originally published in January 1980, [1] and widely known as the "indie chart", the relevance of the chart dwindled in the 1990s as major-label ownership blurred the boundary between independent and major labels.

Independent music is music produced independently from commercial record labels or their subsidiaries, a process that may include an autonomous, do-it-yourself approach to recording and publishing. The term indie is sometimes used to describe a genre, and as a genre term, "indie" may include music that is not independently produced, and many independent music artists do not fall into a single, defined musical style or genre and create self-published music that can be categorized into diverse genres. The term ‘indie’ or ‘independent music’ can be traced back to as early as the 1920’s after it was first used to reference independent film companies but was later used as a term to classify an independent band or record producer.

Single (music) type of music release usually containing one or two tracks

In the music industry, a single is a type of release, typically a song recording of fewer tracks than an LP record or an album. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats. In most cases, a single is a song that is released separately from an album, although it usually also appears on an album. Typically, these are the songs from albums that are released separately for promotional uses such as digital download or commercial radio airplay and are expected to be the most popular. In other cases a recording released as a single may not appear on an album.


Separate independent charts are currently published weekly by the Official Charts Company.

The Official Charts Company, also referred to as Official Charts is a British inter-professional organisation that compiles various "official" record charts in the United Kingdom, including the UK Singles Chart, the UK Albums Chart, the UK Singles Downloads Chart and the UK Album Downloads Chart, as well as genre-specific and music video charts. The OCC produces its charts by gathering and combining sales data from retailers through market researchers Millward Brown, and claims to cover 99% of the singles market and 95% of the album market, and aims to collect data from any retailer who sells more than 100 chart items per week.


In the wake of punk, small record labels began to spring up, as an outlet for artists that were unwilling to sign contracts with major record companies, or were not considered commercially attractive to those companies. By 1978, labels like Cherry Red, Rough Trade, and Mute had started up, and a support structure soon followed, including independent pressing, distribution and promotion. [2] These labels got bigger and bigger, and by 1980 were having top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart. [2] Chart success was limited, however, since the official top 40 was based on sales at large chains and ignored significant sales at the scores of independent record shops that existed. Iain McNay of Cherry Red suggested to the weekly trade paper Record Business the idea of an independent record chart to address the problem, and the first independent chart appeared in 1980, published in Record Week, and later licensed to Sounds . [2]

Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed in the mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as "proto-punk" music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels and other informal channels.

Cherry Red Records is a British independent record label founded by Iain McNay in 1978. The label has released recordings by Dead Kennedys, Everything But the Girl, The Monochrome Set, and Felt, among others, as well as the compilation album Pillows & Prayers. In addition to releasing new music, Cherry Red also acts as an umbrella for individual imprints and catalogue specialists.

Rough Trade Records British record label

Rough Trade Records is an independent record label based in London, England. It was formed in 1978 by Geoff Travis who had opened a record store off Ladbroke Grove. Having successfully promoted and sold records by punk rock and early post-punk and indie pop bands such as the Smiths and Desperate Bicycles, Travis began to manage acts and distribute bands such as Scritti Politti and began the label, which was informed by left-wing politics and structured as a co-operative. Soon after, Rough Trade also set up a distribution arm that serviced independent retail outlets across Britain, a network that became known as the Cartel.

The definition of whether or not a single was "indie" had depended on the distribution channel by which it was shipped [3] —the record needed to be delivered by a distribution service that was independent of the four major record companies: EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group. [2] [4] In 1981, compilation of the chart switched to research company MRIB. [2] The chart served to give exposure to the independent labels and the artists on those labels. In 1985, Music Week started compiling its own indie chart, but failed to meet the authority of the original chart. Other weekly music papers also published their own charts, often compiled from single record shops. [1] By 1990, the significance of the chart had been diluted by major record companies forming their own 'indie' labels, with independent distribution, in order to break new acts via exposure from the indie chart. [2] [1] [5]

EMI British music recording and publishing company

EMI Group Limited was a British Transnational conglomerate founded in March 1931 in London. At the time of its break-up in 2012, it was the fourth largest business group and record label conglomerate in the music industry, and was one of the big four record companies ; its labels included EMI Records, Parlophone, Virgin Records, and Capitol Records, which are now owned by other companies.

Warner Music Group American global music conglomerate

Warner Music Group Inc. (WMG), also known as Warner Music, is an American multinational entertainment and record label conglomerate headquartered in New York City. It is one of the "big three" recording companies and the third largest in the global music industry, after Universal Music Group (UMG) and Sony Music Entertainment (SME). Formerly part of Time Warner, the company was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange until May 2011, when it announced its privatization and sale to Access Industries, which was completed in July 2011. With a multibillion-dollar annual turnover, WMG employs more than 3,500 people and has operations in more than 50 countries throughout the world.

Universal Music Group American music corporation

Universal Music Group is an American global music corporation that is a subsidiary of the French media conglomerate Vivendi. UMG's global corporate headquarters are located in Santa Monica, California. It is considered one of the "Big Three" record labels, along with Sony Music and Warner Music Group. Since 2004, the corporation is no longer related to the film studio Universal Studios.

To be included in the indie chart, a record had to be distributed independently of the corporate framework of the major record companies; the genre of music was irrelevant. Large independent distributors emerged such as Pinnacle and Spartan, and there later emerged The Cartel, an association of regional distributors including Rough Trade, Backs, and Red Rhino. [2]

The first weekly independent chart was published on 19 January 1980, with Spizzenergi's "Where's Captain Kirk" topping the singles chart, and Adam and the Ants' Dirk Wears White Sox topping the album chart. [2]

Spizzenergi band

Spizzenergi is an English punk/new wave band led by vocalist/guitarist Spizz. Formed in the late 1970s, the band changed its name every year, subsequent names including Athletico Spizz 80, Spizzoil and The Spizzles.

Adam and the Ants English rock band

Adam and the Ants were an English rock band active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The group, which lasted from 1977 to 1982, existed in two incarnations, both fronted by Adam Ant. The first, founded in May 1977 and known simply as The Ants until November that year, achieved considerable cult popularity during the transition from the punk rock era to the post-punk and new wave era, and were noted for their high camp and overtly sexualised stage performances and songs. The final line-up of this first incarnation – Dave Barbarossa, Matthew Ashman and Leigh Gorman – left the band in January 1980 at the suggestion of then-de facto manager Malcolm McLaren, to form the instrumentalist personnel of the controversial Bow Wow Wow.

<i>Dirk Wears White Sox</i> 1979 studio album by Adam and the Ants

Dirk Wears White Sox is the debut studio album by English new wave band Adam and the Ants. It was released on 30 October 1979 by record label Do It. It was the first number one album on the UK Independent Albums Chart when the chart debuted in Record Week in 1980.

Official Charts Company

Although the independent chart has less relevance today, The Official UK Charts Company still compiles a chart, consisting of those singles from the main chart on independent labels. [6]

The OCC's Independent Chart was significantly altered in June 2009. Its new system altered the qualification criteria to include only singles from labels that were at least fifty per cent owned by a record company that was not one of the main four record companies. [1] [7] This prevented major record companies from qualifying for the chart by outsourcing the shipping of their singles to smaller distribution services. [4] These new changes were first unveiled at the 2008 annual general meeting of the British Phonographic Industry on 9 July, [8] and the new chart went live on 29 June 2009. [9] The first song to top the chart under the new system was "Bonkers" by Dizzee Rascal, which also made it to No. 1 in the main UK Singles Chart.

Also during the 2000s and 2010s many indie rock/post-punk revival bands like the Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys topped the OCC's chart; Arctic Monkeys' single "Do I Wanna Know?" reached No. 2 in the chart in June 2013 while making it to No. 11 in the main chart.

See also

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  3. "Chart rules to benefit small labels". Bristol Evening Post . Bristol: Northcliffe Media. 15 June 2009. OCLC   428435947 . Retrieved 3 March 2011.[ permanent dead link ]
  4. 1 2 Collett-White, Mike (15 June 2009). "New chart to boost indie acts". London: Reuters . Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  5. Kitty Empire (July 2007). "We won the indie wars - but at what price?". Guardian Unlimited. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
  6. "Top 30 Independent Label Singles". BBC. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
  7. Durr, Leanne (15 June 2009). "Official Charts Company Re-Launch UK's Independent Charts". Liverpool: Glasswerk National. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  8. Cardew, Ben (7 July 2008). Williams, Paul, ed. "Independent labels to top BPI agenda". Music Week . London: United Business Media (07.07.08). ISSN   0265-1548. OCLC   60620772 . Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  9. News desk (15 June 2009). "UK to gain independent charts". London: Archived from the original on 3 October 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2011.